In association with BT Sport

Digitally savvy sport pubs ‘running away with it’

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

BT Sport has joined forces with Google Digital Garage to offer pubs digital and social media skills to pay the bills.

Register for BT Sport and Google digital garage’s free and personalised digital training

BT Sport customers can sign up for one of BT Sport and Google Digital Garage’s free training sessions at www.btsportbusiness.com/google/​   

Full training schedule:

  • 3 September 2018 – Anfield, Liverpool
  • 10 September 2018 – Amex Stadium, Brighton
  • 17 September 2018 – BT Tower, London
  • 24 September 2018 – Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
  • 1 October 2018 – BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
  • 2 October 2018 – Kingston Park Stadium, Newcastle
  • 16 October 2018 – Old Trafford, Manchester
  • 22 October 2018 – Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
  • 23 October 2018 – Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol

Former BT Sport pub manager of the month​ Simon Delaney of the Firbank Pub & Kitchen in Wythenshawe, Manchester, has stolen a march on his local competition by using social media effectively. He believes that pubs not maximising their online presence have left him with an open goal.

"The people who are not doing it, they're my biggest asset,” says Delaney. “All my competition don't use social media the way they should. I'm sat here now reaping the rewards.”

When asked, 58% of publicans subscribing to BT Sport indicated that they would use social media more if they knew how to make the most of it, while consumers have revealed that they believe social media will be the most influential advertising platform in years to come according to CGA. 

In response, BT Sport and Google Digital Garage have teamed up to offer free bespoke workshops and face-to-face coaching to pubs, helping pubs make their business visible online and ensuring they aren’t being left behind.  

Almost half of sports fans ‘follow’ pubs on social media

Everything from big transfer deals to multimillion-pound fight contracts are announced via social media nowadays with players and athletes amassing millions of followers. Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, for example, has enough Instagram followers to fill Old Trafford 64 times over and Dele Alli took the internet by storm with his celebration challenge.

The widespread digitisation of sport has seen fans and sportspeople alike take to the internet in their droves. With CGA research highlighting that 45% of live sport watching customers ‘follow’ a pub on social media, it makes sense that pubs communicate with them online.  

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As the World Cup social media show-and-tell that filled the internet with beer throwing videos, and the fact that the word 'football' was used 77m times on social media over the past year, will attest, fans love sharing sporting moments on social media whether they’re at the game or not. Offering them a place to watch sport means that there’s a good chance that they’ll not only show up but share their experience online as well.

People just 'need a nudge'

From Simon Delaney’s experience, the customers he reaches at unprecedented scale via the Firbank Pub & Kitchen’s social media channels don’t need much encouragement to head to their local. 

"We can put a post out, say on Facebook, and 20,000 people can view something that we put out there within a few days and we see a return.

“It's worked and it's cost me nothing other than a minute of my time and I brought customers in. Some people just need a nudge."

Promotion on the day isn’t enough

Showing that your pub takes sport seriously in the days building up to a big fixture can make a huge difference when it comes to driving footfall.

A large number of sports fans make up their mind about which pub they’re going to watch sport at days prior to fixture taking place meaning that it’s not enough simply to advertise on the morning of a Premier League fixture.

Fans want to see that a pub is as committed to sport and team of choice as they are, with social media offering a low-cost way to do this at unprecedented scale.

Encourage new and repeat business

Sports fans are creatures of habit. Once you’ve got them through the door, they’re highly likely to return. Given social media plays a key role in decision making, it makes sense that pubs take their online presence seriously.

BT Sport director of commercial customers Bruce Cuthbert explains: “Having a presence on social media has become key for publicans to encourage new and existing customers into their venues.

“Our customers also tell us that that many of them are not entirely confident in how to do this to get the best results possible.

“Teaming up with Google Digital Garage means we will be able to give our licensees the chance to get practical training from experts, which they can put into practice straight away to raise their profile with their customers.”

Time and effort necessary

However, sports pubs shouldn’t expect an immediate boost in footfall. Cultivating a presence on social media is something that takes a lot of time and effort according to Delaney. It’s not just a matter of setting up an account and posting a few images of your pub on a match day and watching the fans roll in.

Delaney advises pubs without a track record on social media to take their time in getting used to it and building an audience.

Train with BT Sport talent

Course attendees will also get the chance to hear from members of the BT Sport team, including Harry Redknapp, Lawrence Dallaglio, Steve McManaman, Ugo Monye and Robbie Savage, who will attend some of the events to preview the upcoming season of sport.

Chance to visit top sporting venues

BT Sport and Google Digital Garage’s workshops and face-to-face coaching will be held at some of the UK’s most famous sporting venues,​ including Anfield, Old Trafford and BT Murrayfield, where publicans will have the opportunity to soak in their surroundings while speaking to web optimisation, online advertising and analytics specialists.

Full training schedule below:

  • 3 September 2018 – Anfield, Liverpool
  • 10 September 2018 – Amex Stadium, Brighton
  • 17 September 2018 – BT Tower, London
  • 24 September 2018 – Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
  • 1 October 2018 – BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh
  • 2 October 2018 – Kingston Park Stadium, Newcastle
  • 16 October 2018 – Old Trafford, Manchester
  • 22 October 2018 – Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
  • 23 October 2018 – Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol

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